Happy Easter every body!!

Ekwang Meal

……traditional dish from Cameroon. Made from grated coco yams, wrapped in coco yam leaves and seasoned with assorted meat and dry fish.

Tasty.

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A Visit to the Old Trafford

Over the Febuary half term, I drove to Manchester spending the night in budget Travelodge Hotel  near the Manchester City Airport. Perhaps, on another occasion, I will write about my stay itself at the two star hotel. A friend said, you get what you pay for! That summarizes, in a nutshell, the night spent at the Travelodge.

The next day was spent touring the expansive grounds of the Old Trafford. It was a truely amazing experience to share in history of such a great club: Manchester United. Here is what I wrote about it. An amazing visit, well worth the experience for supporters and cynics of the club.

A version was published on www.tellng.com/blog.

Hope you like it.

 
For football fans, a trip to the Old Trafford is more a pilgrimage than a day out.Manchester United Football Club is possibly the world’s greatest football club. Parking is normally restricted on event days, but on the day we visited, parking was free for visitors.  For the thousands who visited on the day we visited, the excitement was palpable as we drove into the car park. Just as we walked in through the gate, a coach parked and a party of Chinese fans alighted and literally ran through into the front facing legendary three statues. If you love the club, you would love Old Trafford, the home of the Manchester United Football Club. Manchester United is one of the wealthiest and most widely supported football teams in the world. In January 2013, Manchester United became the first sports team in the world to be valued at $3 billion. The club was purchased by Malcolm Glazer in May 2005 in a deal valuing the club at almost £800 million.
Manchester United F.C may have lost to Real Madrid tonight, but that does not dwarf the club’s beliefs in its own accomplishments. The club currently holds the record for most top division titles, with 19 most FA Cups and the record for most FA Cup Final appearances. They are also the first team to win the Premier League as well as hold the record for the most Premier League titles (12). They are the first English team to win the European Cup when they won it in 1968. The only major honor that Manchester United has not yet won is the UEFA Europa League. And it will.
Old Trafford s capacity is 75,765. The stadium usually fills up on home games. The club has more than 50,000 season ticket holders and 8,000 executive seats. The stadium has 70 kiosks or catering outlets that sell 10,000 pies and hot dogs and 30,000 hot and cold drinks at every home game. More than 400 full time staff  work at Old Trafford but on a match day this rises to over 3000. There are at least 5,000 parking spaces around the stadium. Peak power usage on  a match day can reach 5.5 megawatts. Access to the Old Trafford is facilitated by tours. The tour which includes the Museum costs £16 and lasts about 70 minutes, this time does not include time spent in the museum. The tour includes the dugouts, players tunnel, press areas, players dressing room and Museum. Photographs are allowed in certain areas whilst video recording is banned in all areas. Photo journalists from around the world use this opportunity to take pictures of the Old Trafford which would be difficult  on a match night. We were shown a plaque which commemorated the loss of Munich Airport Air disaster in 1958 and the players tunnel.
 
The Old Trafford is a legendary football club with trophies and medals to back its position as a football world champion. The manager of the club, Sir Alex Ferguson is literally worshipped by fans and staff at the Old Trafford. On a recorded video message, he thanked us for coming and he hoped we would come back again. And again. The tour guide made repeated mentions to the boss Sir Alex Ferguson as we passed his office, Press lounge and other places. On tour, there is an opportunity to take a picture with a mannequin of him for eight pounds. Nobody took up the offer.
 
Many Nigerians who come to the UK choose to live in Manchester so they can be close to the Old Trafford. When we visited, there were people from every race on earth it seemed. Old Trafford is an area of Stretford in the Trafford borough of Greater Manchester. An area where many Nigerians and Afro Caribbean live, events are planned according to match nights as the area can get very co
ngested. The Old Trafford is 2 miles (3.2km) southwest of Manchester city centre. Old Trafford is the site of two major sporting venues: Old Trafford Football Stadium, home of Manchester United F.C. and Old Trafford Cricket Ground, home of Lancashire County Cricket Club. Old Trafford seemed modern enough. But for the stadium, there was nothing exceptional about the neighbourhood. Wembley is the other stadium which matches the size of the Old Trafford. Unlike the Old Trafford, the Wembley stadium is located in the middle class suburbs of Wembley Park . Old Trafford seemed like a working class area.
The tour guide, a grumpy man in his fifties  showed off the various seating arrangements at different sides of the stadium. Predictably, the press, VIP and players seats were remarkably different from all other seats. The Press had access to wi fi pods  (and equipment related to their work)and obviously priority seating for all events. He told British jokes which  made you laugh if you could understand his strong Northern accent.  The VIP lounge had padded seating and carpets. 128 CCTV cameras monitor the Old Trafford grounds 24 hours every day, seven days a week. There is a Police cell on the grounds for unruly fans and players.  In 2011, the stadium’s North Stand got renamed Alex Ferguson Stand in honour of the club’s long-time manager. Old Trafford’s South Stand remains the only two-tiered stand of the stadium, but expansion possibilities are limited due to the railway line that runs behind the stand. While Man United has indicated that a further expansion to 95,000 seats remains a possibility, no concrete plans exist at the moment.
 
The museum is a heaven for hard core Manchester United fans. It contains every medal/trophy since the formation of the club in 1878. Many people spend hours literally pouring through the information behind each victory trophy. In the museum were families fathers passing on the ManUtd love to their sons, grandfathers doing the same with their grand kids. It was a truly amazing experience. At the end of our  tour,  we were a certificate of attendance and led through a warehouse store where you can purchase any ManUtd memorabilia of  choice.
 
Tundun Adeyemo
 
 
 

Archbishop Justin Welby

On Thursday the 21st of March, Dr. Justin Welby will be  enthroned as the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He will become the spiritual leader of 77 million Christians in more than 160 countries  across the world.   In the West, particularly the UK,the religious leaders are  constantly under pressure to dilute the Truth of the gospel by being non discriminative with their exposition of the Bible.   The  Press are keen to find out  Dr Welby’s political leanings and his views  on same sex marriage.

Below are  excerpts from the Daily Mail and  the Guardian.  They give an insight into the sort of leader he would be.
On Sex outside Marriage
‘My understanding of sexual ethics has been that, regardless of whether it’s gay or straight, sex outside marriage is wrong. Now that gets me into all kinds of difficulty.

We don’t have to be obsessive. The trouble is in the Church we get totally hooked on sexual sin. It’s not the thing that most concerns me’.

On Same Sex Marriage
The Archbishop said the Government’s same-sex marriage plan, which is being championed by David Cameron, was ‘a bad piece of legislation’. (Emphasis mine).Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294686/Archbishop-Canterbury-Justin-Welby-reveals-fears-following-father-alcoholism.html#ixzz2NtHClKXK

It is refreshing to note that the Archbishop chose a prayer pilgrimage that would see him visit  five cities and six cathedrals – missing  Pope Francis’s inauguration  in Rome- ahead of his on the 21st. It is certain  this Archbishop will serve God in a refreshingly different way. Let’s pray for Archbishop Justin Welby and his family as he takes up perhaps the most difficult job on the planet. Let’s pray that he will be a Voice for Christ.

Amen.

Enduring Violent Relationships

Domestic abuse is far more prevalent than we realise. In the UK, one on four women is likely to be a victim of domestic abuse at some point or the other in her life time. Domestic violence is not one we enjoy talking about, yet we all know someone, maybe two, who are victims of abusive relationships.  What do we do to help our loved ones come out of tyranical and abusive relationships?  Most women who stay in these relationships are not spineless, they may have lost the confidence in themselves to believe that they deserve better.
Any woman who allows her man to hit her again and again, any woman who makes excuses for her man when he is unreasonably violent, any woman who puts who with ‘nonsense’ from a man, ought to read this and say ‘ENOUGH,I deserve more!

This article is for those who ought to pack their bags TODAY. If that is you, your life is more important, just leave.  Dont spend time packing pots and pans, just leave with your life, a mobile phone and a debit card (if you have one). Things will sort themselves out. If you are in the UK, please start by visiting www.refuge.org.uk  or http://www.womensaid.org.uk/ or call free phone 0808 2000 247 now.

A variant of this article was published on the 5th of March 2013 on www.tellng.com.

Why do women stay in abusive relationships? Each woman who chooses to,  does so for a variety of reasons. There are those women who stay for financial and economic reasons. Many women in Nigeria stay because of their children. The myth that children are best raised in (abusive) homes  abound loosely in churches and from the unexamined wisdom of concerned counsellors.  The actual truth is that a child is best raised with a single parent away from the dis functionality of his immediate background (if his father/mother is the aggressor in the relationship). The issues are complicated and we cannot say for certain that we understand this mindset. But, we can conclude that these women are not spineless at all, they are but victims who need our  sympathy, support and help.

Within the Nigerian framework, religious and cultural reasons inadvertently force women to stay captive in violent relationships. For instance, fundamental Christians forbid divorce. With marriage vows said, these women become imprisoned mentally and socially in order to avoid the wrath  and stigma of their religious institution.  Culturally, women are awarded more respect if they are married than single. Some women are ashamed and scared to revert back to their singlehood status, so they stay. Unmarried women can also fall into the hands of the domineering partner by failing to spot the signs of abuse at the outset of the relationship.  Generally, abused women find that they are embarrassed and ashamed to talk about their situation. They live in the fairy tale world that things will change for them. Sadly,a man who hits a woman will hit again and again.

Lest we think, domestic violence is the preserve of the poor and uneducated. The Haven of Wolverhampton, a charity which focuses on the welfare of abused women in Nigeria, writes on their website that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Africa.   They reckon that more than two thirds of Nigerian women are believed to experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of their husbands. Many Nigerian women have in fact been killed by their husbands. They conducted a small scale study in Lagos and Oyo States which revealed that nearly 65 percent of educated women said they had been beaten by a partner, boyfriend or husband, while 56% of lower income market women have experienced similar violence.

In the United Kingdom, the statistics makes for an uncomfortable digest. Online surveys reveal that one in four women (one man in six) in the United Kingdom will suffer from domestic violence at some point in their lives. Two women (in the UK) a week are killed by a current or former male partner.








Photocredit: www.tvmagazine.net.

The question though is why do women remain in abusive relationships. Aside from sensational headlines, domestic abuse is more rampant and perhaps under reported than any other crime in Nigeria. Unsympathetic policing and mixed societal messages which blame the woman for her misfortunes make it hard for a woman to seek help.  Tinuke (not real name)  stayed in her abusive marriage for five years till she decided she had had enough. Asking her why she stayed for so long, she said she lacked the strength to walk away. Over the course of the marriage, she admitted that she believed the names her husband called her. When she was called, ‘stupid’ and ‘idiot’ she accepted  it was her. Anita is also spoke candidly about why she remained with her abusive husband for eleven years. She said when she married him, she signed a life contract  and life to her meant life. Even though, he started to hit her whilst she was pregnant, she felt prayers and counselling would sort things out.  Change in his character was always short lived. It did not seem God was ready to sort her husband out, she left after a night of beating in her 15th year.

The tragedy of women who stay is revealed in the stories of  artiste Rihanna and Chris Brown, in the untimely death of Whiney Houston and many others. Unfortunately, mothers, sisters, friends and families all stand by and watch their daughters remain in vicious relationships. Many mothers have buried their daughters, who died at the hand of their partners. Often times, there is nothing they can do. Mothers and family members  support by giving money, offering prayers and doing anything else that is required.  They try to reach out, but  it is the victim in most cases who must consciously seek  to come out.  Abused women need to see that they are not the ones at fault. Love does not have to hurt or be this cruel.  An abusive man is very much unlikely to change.

Abused women are not spineless females, but victims of their love, passion, and (mis)judgements. The courageous few who leave,  we applaud. We wait for those who remain in meaningless violent relationships sympathetically. They need to be reminded daily of our commitment to walk the last miles to safety with them.

Tundun Adeyemo

Trailblazers: Black and Successful – The Kayodes

Hello everybody

I wanted to post the interview (series of conversations more like it) I did with the Kayodes here. You might have read it on www.tellng.com. It was published on the 6th March 2012. I have to say that I have met successful black people, but Helen and Churchill are different. They are warm and giving. Very open and willing to come to your level and discuss with you.

I got a lot of life tips from them.  I learnt from them to constantly examine my own prejudices.  If you think you can, you can. If you think you cant, you cant.  A desire to become active in my community is something else that stuck  from our conversations. Helen and Churchill are passionate volunteers in Citizens Advise Bureau, CHAS,  Woodside Park Garden Surburb Residents Association amongst other places where they have served honourably and faithfully.

I hope their life story inspires and extends you. A little bit.

Helen and Churchill Kayode

A chilly Sunday afternoon, the fire place was burning slowly. The Christmas tree was resplendent with presents and lights, the dark mahogany floor reflected the cascading silver chandelier which hung from the high ceiling in the middle of the study room.  Mr and Mrs Kayode’s study had just enough furniture to make the room warm and welcoming.  Placed just in front of the bay windows was a stunning black glass office desk- home to a sleek office computer. There was a small round office table, two chairs around it as if poised for a business meeting. The room was tied together by the large inviting beige sofa. We spent several evenings in the study at their home in a scenic North London suburb talking about the Kayode’s stories, lives and time in the United Kingdom. 

 

Helen, who sits on the bench in UK as a magistrate, and Churchill, a former airline pilot, are Nigerians living and working in England. They successfully run a Consultancy company and have held various management positions in UK.  I began by asking them what they felt the secret to their accomplishments thus far has been. Their candid response included a memorable quote by Louis Pasteur the famous chemist and microbiologist ’Chance favours only the prepared mind.’ We achieved a lot by our willingness to prepare our minds through continuous education and broad reading. Most importantly the UK provides ‘the chance’ or better still the opportunity for those who are prepared. The UK rewards those willing to put in the hard work and brain work (Merit). For example, when the chance to work for Her Majesty The Queen (Royal Household) was offered to Helen she was prepared and took on the challenge gallantly.”

 

One cannot help but notice the team work of this warm and wonderful couple, you get the impression that neither of them could survive without the other. Their team work reflects in their lives. Helen and Churchill own and run Conquista Consulting UK together, play golf together and are both black belts (1stDan) in kickboxing.

Also, they are both public speakers –. ‘Political Correctness’, ‘The Bench’, ‘Materialism’ and ‘Free Speech’ are some of the speeches Helen has delivered. Churchill has also given speeches on several interesting topics including ‘Health Care and the Internet’, ‘Does the Internet empower patients?’, ‘A Matter of Life and Debt’, ‘Can Money buy Happiness’, ‘Welfare Reform in The UK What Next?’.

 

We entered into a discussion about their work life before Conquista, hoping it would help provide some insight into what lead them to where they are today. Helen worked for the United States Information Services (USIS) for almost 9 years before travelling in 1994 to UK to study for Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) at the University of North London and the College of Law, London for her Legal practice course (LPC). In 1999 Churchill retired from the defunct Nigeria Airways where he worked as an airline pilot for almost 12 years to join his family. He went on to study Master of Science (MSc) in Electronic Commerce at the Middlesex University, London.

 

Churchill and Helen are accredited project and
programme managers (PRINCE 2 and MSP). They have years of experience in delivering IT and business change projects, business transformation programmes and strategic initiatives with proven cost management expertise.  The key motivating factor for their pursuit of a career in Information Technology (IT) was based on the fact that we live in a world where it is impossible to be fully efficient in the business society without having grasp of information and communications technology. This combined with the fact that IT is the backbone of every business, provided them with a directional approach: a focus on programme management and strategic planning.

 

Having gained vast experience working for blue chip companies, husband and wife started Conquista Consulting (www.conquista.co.uk) in 2006. Conquista is a management consultancy specialising in business and technology transformation, energy consultancy and strategy implementation. Conquista consultants have worked for renowned clients in UK such as Lloyds Banking Group, Brit Insurance Limited, Barclays Bank Plc, World Energy Council, Financial Services Authority, Royal Bank of Scotland, Post Office Ltd, Metropolitan Police Service, HM Revenue and Customs, Department for Education and Skills.

 

This conversation ignited a sense of nostalgia in them both, and they began to speak fondly of their childhood memories of Nigeria from communal living in Surulere Lagos and Bodija Estate Ibadan to, flying kites and playing on trampoline. At this point the Kayode’s mentioned the role of their parental influence, stating that their parents served as a strong reminder that hard work and integrity are crucial in achieving success. They took this message to heart and it seems to have paid off.

 

Helen, who is a certified recruiter, said there are numerous benefits and challenges for a couple working closely together and running our business. One of the benefits of a husband and wife team working together is they are both striving for the same goal and generally work hard because they both want the business to succeed.

The challenges of running a business are quite different from those of marriage, such as division of labour in the office which is key to maintaining good working relationships.”

 

The writer met with Helen and Churchill on three occasions and each experience was amazingly refreshing. In one of our sessions we discussed socials, voluntary work and other activities outside running Conquista Consulting.

 

Mr and Mrs Kayode have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to wine and dine in high . They have attended Garden parties and Christmas parties at Buckingham palace. In one of these parties, Churchill had the pleasant experience of meeting Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh

 

Churchill and Helen have both served on the management boards of charitable organisations as Non-Executive Directors and served as the President of HOD speaker club. Helen was the company Secretary for FirstRung(education) for years and currently volunteers as a legal adviser at Citizens Advice Bureau, an organisation providing free, independent and confidential legal advice.  Churchill was a Panel Member for “The Bridge New Deal for Communities”, a £50m UK central government regeneration programme for deprived area of London. Currently, he is the secretary of the Residents Association of the area they live.

 

 “If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” ― Warren Buffett. The Kayode’s made it clear that this quote underlines their philosophy of giving back to their communities. Helen stated Nigerians who are lucky to be doing well owe it to the society they live in, and as such need to embrace the spirit of giving back to their society.

 

Voracious readers, in addition to their busy work life, they spend hours reading books on current affairs, history, political and social economic, leadership, autobiographies and biographies of world and business leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Some titles recently read by Churchill and Helen are ‘Free Lunch: Easily Digestible Economics’ by David Smith, ‘The Undercover Economist’ by Tim Harford, ‘Greenspan’s Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve by William Fleckenstein and Frederick Sheehan’, ‘World Politics Since 1945’ by Peter Calvocoressi, ‘The Money Machine: How the City Works’ by Philip Coggan, ‘Not a Laffing Matter’ by Dele Omotunde and ‘The Audacity to Win: How Obama Won’ by David Plouffe.

 

Recently, they both visited Nigeria after a long sojourn. The couple were impressed by the rate of economic growth and general development in the country. Churchill believes Nigeria is better off than when they left 19 years ago as growth and the potential for further growth is evident. This confirms the World Bank projection that Nigeria is among the world’s fastest growing economies in 2012 and Nigeria’s economy is to grow by 6.6% in 2013. 

 

In terms of their future charitable endeavours, Helen is eagerly looking into setting up not for profit organisation in Nigeria to support female empowerment, through implementation of sustainable and renewable energy in the rural areas. She believes the benefits, especially for women, are affordable energy, capacity building, new business opportunities and improved health and education. Helen is currently working on the proposal for a similar project in Thailand.

 

Churchill, also keen to give back to the society, is passionate about effective communication and rational thinking. He believes young people can develop leadership skills by improving their communication skills and rational thinking. To give back to the society, Churchill plans to setup a forum that will provide a platform for young minds to have free and open discussions on topics (excluding religion and politics) with focus on new ways of thinking. This forum will be run by a not-for-profit organisation. In addition to this Churchill is an advocate of young people entering the IT field as he discusses the fact that careers in the IT field are expected to grow significantly in the next decade. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics states that jobs in computer software engineering are expected to grow by 32% by 2018. Also, in the nearer future Helen and Churchill plan to extend the service offerings of Conquista Consulting to Nigeria.

 

It is apparent that the key to their success is rooted in team work, hard work and most importantly a willingness to give back and integrate with society.

 

Tundun Adeyemo